5 top brokers ask: Is Bitcoin and cryptocurrency the future of yacht brokerage?
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Royal Yacht Brokers

With the value of Bitcoin soaring over the past six months, it seems only a matter of time before the yacht brokerage world embraces cryptocurrency. But why has it not take the charter market by storm yet? And what are the key hurdles to buying and selling yachts via Bitcoin? We spoke to five top yacht brokers to get their view.

Tommaso Chiabra of Royal Yacht Brokers, the most recent brokerage firm to embrace this trend told Boat International: “When it comes to the luxury industry, most clients are last-minute in their decisions especially in regards to yacht charters and planning their holidays. By using cryptocurrency they can send us their funds virtually immediately so that we can meet their needs and preferences and they can start their charter as soon as they wish.”

Chiabra, who has been following the rise of cryptocurrency for a long while, adds: “We do believe the blockchain system is fully adaptable to the luxury industry and can see there is a clear advantage to other brokers also in terms of transparency of payments and KYC [identification and verification].”

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Denison Yacht Sales

One of the earliest adopters of cryptocurrency, Denison Yacht Sales announced back in November 2014 that it would start accepting Bitcoin for yacht transactions. While president Bob Denison admits that this policy has yet to yield a sale, he explains that it has attracted new clients and led to active negotiations, which are still ongoing.

“I think you'll see more brokers in the future offer Bitcoin as a currency option,” Denison predicts. “Firms should be willing to go out of their way to make transactions easier for all clients. And of course, that type of approach is just good for business, and doesn't just apply to the topic of Bitcoin.”

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Fraser

As one of the market leaders in the brokerage world, Fraser has considered the benefits of cryptocurrencies but does not currently accept them for sales or charter.

Explaining the firm’s stance, CEO Raphael Sauleau said: “At this time, the fluctuation of Bitcoin does not offer security for high-level transactions, however this is something that we are looking at and are working with our banks to incorporate [Bitcoin] into our payments system at some point in the future."

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26 North Yachts

Florida-based 26 North Yachts also sees great potential in cryptocurrency to disrupt the brokerage market. Co-founder Mike Carlson said: “Our announcement regarding cryptocurrencies three and a half years ago generated a tidal wave of interest that has continued to this day. That said, many of these clients ultimately made the decision to use US dollars instead.”

Sounding a note of caution, he added: “There is more due diligence required on our end for cryptocurrency transactions, because we as a brokerage house have to go to even greater lengths to confirm that we understand the source of a buyer's funds, in order to ensure that we are complying with all legal and regulatory requirements.”

The reduced costs and increased speed of asset transfers were highlighted by Carlson as the two key benefits that draw clients to cryptocurrency, and for these reasons, he can only see this trend accelerating in future.

“The train has already left the station in regards to cryptocurrencies. In fact, we could envision a future where any yachting transactions done in Dollars or Euros would seem old-fashioned and unnecessarily expensive to execute than the cryptocurrency alternative,” he predicts. “We're not quite there yet, but we're a lot closer than we were when we made our Bitcoin announcement.”

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Cecil Wright & Partners

It was back in 2013 when Chris Cecil Wright of Cecil Wright & Partners was first introduced to the concept of cryptocurrencies by a client, but the past 18 months have seen this idea really take root, he explains: “The combined market capitalisation of cryptocurrencies is over $220 billion and there are multiple benefits. Of particular interest are the financial efficiencies of trading it, utilising it as a currency in exchange for goods and services, security, and the transaction speed, which is attributed to the lack of third party involvement.”

Cecil Wright describes cryptocurrency as “a bit of a game changer” for the charter market as it allows 24/7 transactions on large sums without the limitations of bank opening hours.

“We are prepared for any potential issues that might arise having run every scenario that could occur during a yacht acquisition,” he adds. “This has taken a while to iron out, but it will certainly be worth it.”

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